RISMEDIA, Aug 2, 2011—Recently, U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the availability of $95 million to support sustainable local initiatives through the FY 2011 Regional Planning and Community Challenge Planning Grant Programs from HUD’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities. Awarded competitively, both programs work to expand housing choices, improve connections between employment centers and homes, and reduce barriers to achieving affordable, economically vital, and sustainable communities.
“This funding renews an important commitment the Obama Administration made to American families with the announcement of the Administration’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities in 2009,” says Donovan. “Connecting affordable housing choices with quality schools and jobs not only ensures families will be able to provide a safe environment for their children, but it also provides communities large and small with the resources they need to make a sustainable plan for their future.”
This year’s Regional Planning Grant program will encourage grantees to support regional planning efforts that integrate housing, land-use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure developments in a manner that empowers regions to consider how all of these factors work together to bring economic competitiveness and revitalization to a community. The program will place a priority on partnerships, including the collaboration of arts and culture, philanthropy, and innovative ideas to the regional planning process.
Recognizing that areas are in different stages of sustainability planning, HUD will establish two funding categories for the Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant program.
• Group 1 Funds: Can be used to support the preparation of Regional Plans for sustainable development.
• Group 2 Funds: Can be used to support efforts to modify existing regional plans so that they are in accordance with the Partnership for Sustainable Communities’ six Livability Principles. Category 2 Funds also may be used to prepare more detailed execution plans for an adopted regional plan for sustainable development and limit predevelopment planning activities for catalytic projects.
The Community Challenge Planning grant program will be competitively awarded to state, local and tribal governments for efforts such as amending or replacing local master plans, zoning and building codes to promote mixed-use development, building more affordable housing, and the rehabilitation of older buildings and structures with the goal of promoting sustainability at the local and neighborhood levels. In addition, this year’s grant program will set aside $3 million for jurisdictions with populations under 50,000, and reward high scoring applicants with Preferred Sustainability Status (PSS), which will qualify them for several benefits, including access to capacity building resources and potential points in a number of funding opportunities managed by HUD.
Both programs, now in their second year build on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, an innovative interagency collaboration, launched by President Obama in June 2009, between HUD, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide more sustainable housing and transportation choices for families and lay the foundation for a 21st century economy. Guided by six Livability Principles, the Partnership is designed to remove the traditional silos that exist between federal departments and strategically target the agencies’ transportation, land use, environmental, housing and community development resources to provide communities the resources they need to build more livable, sustainable communities. Last month the Partnership marked its second anniversary through a website, www.sustainablecommunities.gov, which provides a one-stop shop for best practices, grant announcement and accomplishments of the Partnership. This year’s grant awardees will join more than 80 communities around the country that have already used sustainable communities funding to plan their region’s future.
The Partnership’s interagency collaboration gets better results for communities and uses taxpayer money more efficiently by coordinating federal investments in infrastructure, facilities, and services that meet multiple economic, environmental, and community objectives with each dollar spent. The Partnership is helping communities across the country to create more housing choices, make transportation more efficient and reliable, reinforce existing investments, and support vibrant and healthy neighborhoods that attract businesses. At a time when every dollar the federal government invests in jumpstarting the economy is critical, the President’s plan ensures that all these agencies are coordinating efforts and targeting resources with precision. Community Planning Challenge grants will reinforce the principles of the Partnership, and provide the grantees with the necessary tools to build economic competitiveness in their regions.
For more information, visit www.hud.gov.